For each Allusion i need the: literal meaning, how it develops theme and a source.1. I would have such a fellow whipped for o’erdoing Termagant (II,ii,14) 2. It out herods Herod (III,ii,14) 3....

1 Answer | Add Yours

lynnebh's profile pic

Posted on

This first quote is from Act III, Scene ii of Hamlet. Hamlet is giving instructions to the troupe of actors that has come to the castle. These actors are going to perform a play within a play and Hamlet has added some lines to the play in the hope of exposing Claudius’ treachery. “Termagant” is an allusion to a god that Elizabethans believed Muslims worshipped. Herod is the king in the Bible that had John the Baptist beheaded and was responsible for Jesus’ death. This allusion is particularly important to Hamlet because like Claudius, Herod married his brother’s wife. John the Baptist told Herod that this was evil, so Herod’s wife Herodias instructed her daughter to ask for the head of John the Baptist, a request with which Herod complied. Hamlet is telling the players not to overdo their acting, not to be more like Herod than Herod himself. Hamlet wants the players to reveal the treachery in a subtle way. Hamlet is disturbed, although perhaps not mad, and although his anger against his mother and stepfather is intense, it tortures him more than them. Throughout the play, he is unable to act on his desires and seek revenge, as his father’s ghost has instructed him to do.  I think he fears what might happen if the players are too bold. I think he wants to get back at Claudius through Claudius’ conscience, or at least get back at his mother, who is less stable than her husband.

In the third quote, Hamlet is talking to Ophelia. It is right before the play is to be performed. He looks at his mother and Claudius and complains that they have forgotten all about his father, who has only died two hours ago. Ophelia tells him it has been four months. Hamlet’s response continues his pretext of being mad because he replies that his father has been dead two months, trying to convince Ophelia further that he is mad, but if a man is to be remembered after six months, he must build churches, otherwise he will not be remembered any more than a prostitute. The hobby horse allusion refers to a player in the pagan May-Day festivals and is sometimes associated with prostitutes. This is an obvious insult to Ophelia and we see that later, she kills herself because of Hamlet’s ill treatment of her.

Read the text here on eNotes because there is an enhanced version that is easier to understand and see if you agree with me.

We’ve answered 323,894 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question